Every sport is facing struggles right now, some more than others. In terms of rugby, things are currently unable to move at grassroots level and this is something that needs to be watched carefully.
The upper levels of the sport, professional leagues and internationals will all be able to play in some capacity, but grassroots cannot be left behind.
There are many concerns about rugby at this level, which is fair because of the close contact nature of the sport, but when things do improve and rugby is allowed to take place again at a lower level, the sport needs to act quickly to get things moving.
Why Can Grassroots Rugby Not be Played at the Moment?
Rugby is a very close contact sport like we all know, and this is the main reason behind no games at the moment.
The current rules state that the only permitted rugby activity involves non-contact play and being socially distant. The rules also state that group sizes must be no more than six, so we have a long way to go before a full rugby team can train together, let alone play someone else.
Anything that involves contact such as tackle training, scrum training and even formats of the game such as tag rugby are all currently banned from taking place.
Guidance from the government continues to appear, but it does seem that rugby is more than one step away from being able to take place. The size of groups and permitted activities both need to change just for teams to train together, then more is needed for them to play another team.
What are Other Grassroots Sports Doing?
This is an area where rugby could potentially fall behind. The club cricket season finally got underway in July, allowing teams to host games in a slightly changed season.
The key though is that if anyone wants to watch cricket, they will have many different local teams to choose from.
The football season has been delayed, but selected teams depending on their levels, can host friendly games with fans in attendance. There are some levels of football that require all games to be played behind closed doors, even at grassroots level, but there are games with fans in August.
Rugby may be one of the last grassroots sports to get back going. Season fixtures are out for next season, but no dates are set for those to take place.
This means it could fall behind, so when the time is right and things do return, it is imperative that the powers do all they can to get teams playing as quickly as possible, to make sure they don’t lose any more time.
How Will This Affect the Professional Game?
In the short term, this will not have much of an impact on the professional teams up and down the country as these will be hopefully playing games.
However, the longer term future of those teams is certainly in question as grassroots rugby is on hold while other sports can be played.
Many who end up at the peak of the sport, will start watching and enjoying games at grassroots, without this they have nowhere to go first.
Week in week out, we see people watching top quality rugby, either live or on TV, placing bets and enjoying the action. Even less popular bookmakers like Unibet offer a wide range of rugby betting markets, showing how popular the sport is for betting.
But many of these people do what they do now because they watched their local team at the beginning. The next generation of fans relies on grassroots rugby coming back as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.